Hardware

Geek Gifts 2009: Logitech G19 keyboard

The Logitech G19 keyboard, with its backlit keys, large programmable built-in gamepad, and programmable LCD represents the culmination of technological advances in gaming keyboard design.

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2009.

Computer gaming has changed tremendously since the early 1980s and the era of the Commodore 64. Games today are sophisticated, graphically intense experiences that pull players into worlds and environments that could only be imagined in years gone by. However, throughout this period there has always been at least on constant - the keyboard.

In so many ways the computer keyboard is the interface that distinguishes computer gaming from console gaming. So it is no wonder that companies specializing in computer peripheral equipment have continually improved the standard computer keyboard to make it more game friendly. The Logitech G19 keyboard, with its backlit keys, large programmable built-in gamepad, and programmable LCD epitomizes this effort. The G19 represents the culmination of technological advances in gaming keyboard design.

Specifications

What I like

  • Construction: The Logitech G19 is solidly constructed and the keys give good tactile feedback when you press them.
  • Backlit: The keyboard is backlit, which means it is great for gaming in a darkened room, which can really heighten the tension is certain games.
  • Programmability: With the included software package, the G19 is completely programmable. Elite computer gamers want to squeeze every advantage they can out of their equipment.
  • Powered USB ports: The powered USB 2.0 ports are perfect for electronic peripheral devices like iPods and smartphones.

What I don't like

  • Extra power connection: The powered USB 2.0 ports and the GamePanel LCD cannot get enough power from a standard USB computer connection. That kind of power has to come from a power outlet. If you are a typical gadget geek like me, you are already creating a fire hazard with the number of electronic devices you have plugged into a single wall outlet. The last thing you want to see is another plug.
  • GamePanel LCD: This is probably more a matter of taste, but I found the GamePanel LCD to be a totally gratuitous luxury that really serves no purpose but to be a novelty doohickey. It is too small to really provide any timely or relative information that you need to know while playing a game.
  • Gamepad: The programmable gamepad, made up of 12 buttons down the left side of the keyboard, is a good idea, but the key layout is not something a power gamer will want to deal with. There are other programmable gamepads out there that do a much better job.
  • Cost: Perhaps the biggest drawback of the Logitech G19 keyboard is its price. At $199, this keyboard is priced about $120 more than the average top-quality standard PC.

Bottom line of Geeks

The Logitech G19 keyboard is a very good gaming-friendly keyboard. With programmable backlit keys, an experienced gamer can use the G19 to create a powerful interface to serve their gaming needs. However, a just as powerful keyboard, minus the unnecessary GamePanel LCD, can be purchased at better than half the price.

Geek score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ***
  • Geek factor: *****
  • Value: *
  • Overall: **

About

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

Editor's Picks